It’s almost certain that you’ve heard of retinol, but have you heard of tretinoin?

Sold under the brand name “Retin-A,” tretinoin was the first retinoid available on the market. When it appeared in 1962, it was used to treat acne, but users soon noticed that their fine lines and wrinkles disappeared right along with their blemishes!

Despite its age, tretinoin is still one of the most effective skin treatment products available on the market. In fact, it is listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

If you’re ready to add a retinoid into your skin care regimen, here’s what you should know about how retinol and tretinoin stack up:


When we’re talking about retinoids, we’re talking about skin care products that contain some form of vitamin A. This skin superhero boasts major benefits, from reducing hyperpigmentation to turning back the clock on fine lines and wrinkles. That’s because vitamin A boosts collagen production, elastin production, and encourages cell turnover.

Think of retinoids as exfoliators on steroids. They help your skin create fresh, healthy cells and get rid of pore-clogging dead skin. Implementing retinoids into your daily routine will leave your skin looking glowy, smooth, and firmed from the inside out.

Over-the-Counter Retinol

Skincare products with retinol contain a pure form of vitamin A that enzymes in your skin convert into retinoic acid. While retinol is gentler on the skin than tretinoin, is also takes longer to work. The enzyme-converting process doesn’t happen immediately, and the efficacy of the products depends on many different factors.

Everything from how long your product has been open to  how quickly your body processes retinol plays a major role in the amount of time it takes before you see results.

Consistent use, along with the use of high-quality products, can significantly improve your results.

Still, it can take more than six months to notice a difference. Retinol is a worthwhile addition to your skincare routine if you’re looking for the results that come from vitamin A treatments without the risk of adverse side effects.

Prescription Tretinoin

The biggest difference between tretinoin and retinol is that the former is a prescription.

Tretinoin is incredibly potent. Because of its healing properties, it does wonders for people suffering from inflammatory acne, sloughing dead skin cells out of the pores and helping fresh skin cells grow in their place. The results are much more dramatic than retinol, but there is a downside.

Using Retin-A products can cause more redness, peeling, and burning than over-the-counter retinol products.

Whichever form of retinoid you choose, it’s best to begin with a conversation with your dermatologist. The experts at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Institute can help you discover the treatment plan that works for your particular concerns and helps you unlock the secrets to youthful, radiant skin.